Bulawayo’s hospital to open by June


The Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo, which has been lying idle since 2004, is set to be opened by the end of June, after partners in the joint venture agreed to work towards achieving this.

 Own Correspondent

Speaking after a tour of the 200-bed medical centre by government ministers, National Social Security Authority general manager James Matiza said Zimbabwe Health Care Trust, which is represented by Daud Dube, had said it had engaged Phodiso, a South African health care company, to manage the medical centre.

Matiza and Dube on Thursday accompanied Senior Minister of State in the President’s Office Simon Khaya Moyo and Public Service Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche on a tour of the centre, following which they held a meeting to discuss plans for its reopening.

“The Zimbabwe Health Care Trust advised that it has engaged Phodiso, a South African‑based health care company to manage the operations at Ekusileni Medical Centre.

“We were also advised by the Zimbabwe Health Care Trust that Phodiso is in the process of purchasing equipment for the medical centre and were assured that CBZ, which is working with the trust, has the documentation to show that equipment has been ordered. Copies of this documentation would be made available to NSSA,” he said.

“We have also requested that the trust provide us with an agreement between itself and Phodiso so that we know we are operating on an official basis, that this is the legal administrator of the centre because when the centre starts operations, NSSA, as the property owners, will have to enter into a lease agreement with the centre’s administration,” he added.

Matiza went on to say that it was agreed that NSSA, Zimbabwe Health Care Trust and Phodiso would work together to ensure that the medical centre is open to the public by the end of June. All parties involved are committed to meeting this goal, he said.

Ekusileni Medical Centre was initiated as a joint venture between Zimbabwe Health Care Trust (ZHCT) and Netcare, a South African health care company that provides private healthcare in both South Africa and the United Kingdom.

A superstructure development fund was set up which saw NSSA, ZHCT and the Mining Industry Pension Fund becoming partners as the superstructure developers. However, the Mining Pension Industry Fund later dropped out of the project and ZHCT failed to contribute towards the centre construction, leaving NSSA to develop it on its own and become the sole owner of the property.

Development of the centre commenced in July 2000. By October of the same year 60% of the building was complete, after which equipment was supposed to be provided by ZHCT through a Spanish loan valued at US$13 million.

However, the loan failed to materialise. The ZHCT ended up with old equipment acquired through donations. In addition, Netcare, which was supposed to manage the medical centre, failed to take up its position in the venture.

The hospital opened in January 2004 but was closed down six months later for reasons that are unclear.

Moyo  and Minister Goche said they would like to see the facility reopened as soon as possible.

“The tour we took today was very revealing in the sense that a number of us pass by not noticing what a treasure we have inside as a country.

“We are on a mission as a new government and this new government is a government of action.

“We have been mandated by the President that in line with our new economic blueprint, ZimAsset, each one of us has a major role to play in ensuring that our country moves forward, particularly in the area of social services,” Moyo said.

He added that he was glad that r Goche had seen it necessary to address the Ekusileni Medical Centre issues within a few months of taking over the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

Goche said President Robert Mugabe has shown a keen interest in the developments at Ekusileni Medical Centre. He said Mugabe had said he would have liked to have been able to open the medical centre at the same time as he opened the new airport in Bulawayo.

“We are going to ensure that completion of the hospital is done soon and the programme of action to finish off and commission the hospital is implemented,” he said.